Thursday, April 4, 2013
Updated: April 5, 2:18 PM ET
LB: Gay rights support led to release
ESPN.com news services
Brendon Ayanbadejo, a highly visible defender of gay rights and same-sex marriage, told Newsday on Thursday he thinks his outspoken advocacy was one of the reasons the Baltimore Ravens released him.
"My bark is louder than my bite," Ayanbadejo told Newsday. "I make a lot of noise and garner a lot of attention for various things off the football field. When that starts happening, why do you have that player around?"
A 10-year veteran, the 36-year-old Ayanbadejo played primarily on special teams. He had a career-high 30 tackles from scrimmage last season for the Super Bowl champions, a sack and 14 stops on special teams.
Ayanbadejo made the Pro Bowl in his first season with the Ravens after also making it twice while with the Chicago Bears.
Ayanbadejo told Newsday he understands the move from a purely football perspective -- Ayanbadejo can be replaced with a cheaper, younger player.
"But I don't necessarily think that teams want this type of attention," he told Newsday.
Later on Thursday, Ayanbadejo tweeted that he was misquoted by the newspaper.
"Total misquote! RT @EnviZion: If the @Ravens cut @brendon310 because of his support on LGBT that would too childish.. Come on man.
"(Team president) Dick Cass and the @ravens had my back all year. Why would I say I was cut cuz my views? Makes no sense."
The Ravens issued a statement Thursday night denying that Ayanbadejo's advocacy of gay rights and same-sex marriage had anything to do with his release.
"We're surprised that he would indicate this. We have always been respectful of Brendon's opinions and his right to express those," said Kevin Byrne, the Ravens' senior vice president for public and community relations. "Our decision regarding his departure from the team has everything to do with football. Nothing else."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.